The conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a separatist group also known as the Tamil Tigers, which has affected the north of the country for over two decades, is rapidly nearing its end.
When the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapakse assumed office in 2005, the LTTE had over 16,000 square kilometers under its control. Within two and a half years since the recommencement of the conflict in mid-2006, the government has managed to take control of the LTTE strongholds in the northeast of Sri Lanka, restricting them to a narrow 8-kilometer strip in the northeast of the country.
The President of Sri Lanka visited the eastern province last year and more recently the Killonochchi last week – the LTTE’s once self-proclaimed headquarters. Subsequently, the armed forces achieved victory this week by rescuing over one-hundred-thousand civilians who were used as human shields by the LTTE in the 8-kilometer strip. The battle between the Sri Lankan
government forces and the LTTE is nearing its end, paving the way for the long-awaited peace and development in those areas.
Against this backdrop, Sri Lanka Tourism is gearing up for a post-conflict strategy focusing on the development of the tourist potential in the northeast.
A high-level delegation headed by the deputy minister of tourism visited the east of Sri Lanka recently as a continuous policy of tourism promotion in the area. The development of the east is of specific focus for the government as the beaches in the east are one of the best in the island, while Arugam Bay is famous as one of the best surfing destinations in the world. Sri Lanka
Tourism is also making arrangements for development of other locations such as Passikudah and Trincomalee, which have excellent beaches for recreation.
Meanwhile, the new brand of Sri Lanka Tourism will be launched in June along with a well-planned communication campaign.
Sri Lanka Tourism is also looking at promotional activities with hotels and the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, aimed at primary markets such as France, Germany, and UK for the summer, which is a tactical offer introduced to those markets.
A post-card campaign will be launched, where 250,000 post cards will be distributed among visitors, while a discount booklet will also be simultaneously distributed with over 50 discount offers from a range of hotels, shopping malls, etc.
The domestic tourism component, which was launched under the ‘Narambamu Sri Lanka’ campaign, has brought about positive results, and Sri Lanka Tourism would launched an advertising campaign targeting the local market in order to increase occupancy levels, as well as create awareness of ‘off the beaten track’ locations of interest in the country.
Sri Lanka Tourism has created a separate Events Strategy for Sri Lanka Tourism, where a large number of events have been created in order to attract more tourists to the country. Consequently, there will be several exciting events coming up this year including the Hikkaduwa Beach Fest, Negombo Beach Fest, the Jazz Festival, Tea Festival, and the Kandy Festival.
As the conflict is drawing to an end in the north, there is a sense of relief among all citizens that peace, prosperity, and development is close at hand.